26-May-2011 9:59 AM

Grimsvötn volcanic ash crisis eases

EUROCONTROL announced approximately 450 flights were cancelled in German airspace, mainly affecting the airports in Bremen, Hamburg and Berlin on 25-May-2011. On a normal day, these airports would expect around 120, 480 and 530 flights, respectively. German airports are currently fully accessible again. According to London VAAC forecasts, it is expected that ash cloud coverage will dissipate overnight. EUROCONTROL does not expect any significant impact on European airspace from ash on 26-May-2011. [more - EUROCONTROL]

European Commission VP for Transport, Siim Kallas, emphasised that while Europe is faced with a volcanic ash crisis again, the situation and response has been markedly different this time around. The type of volcanic ash and eruption and prevailing wind conditions are more favourable than in 2010. Europe is equipped to respond with graduated response rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, making it possible to avoid blanket closure of airspace. He also stressed that volcanic ash still remains a real safety risk to aviation and the final decision to open or close airspace still remains with national authorities. The European Commission has issued, at European level, formal guidance to Member States and airlines to respond to this crisis. [more - European Commission]

Icelandic Meteorological Office reports activity at the Grimsvotn volcano has slowed and is no longer emitting ash, with only minor steam plumes from the crater up to around 300m. Strong north-easterly winds affected the plume overnight. Iceland's civil crisis management stated ash cloud altitudes are declining but cautioned that low-level eruptions could continue for weeks.

UK Met Office indicates that the Grimsvotn volcano is still active with on-going low level seismic activity reported, even though this has decreased. Its forecasts indicate minimal ash over the UK and Europe over the weekend.

Air Navigation Service Providers

  • Avinor reported low ash concentrations in some areas of Norwegian airspace, with normal air traffic is expected for Norway until the morning of 26-May-2011. Forecasts indicate that an area with low ash concentrations in the North Sea and over southern Norway is moving in a south-eastern direction and decreasing in size. The area of high ash concentration at Svalbard will move south and become smaller and lose altitude in the course of the next 12 hours. Medium and low ash concentrations will remain in the area. An ash cloud west of Nordland is continuing towards the south-east over the mainland while also becoming somewhat smaller. [more - Avinor]
  • DFS reports the situation in German airspace returned to normal late in the evening on 25-May-2011. The two Berlin airports re-opened mid-afternoon and the German meteorological service DWD reports that, after 18:00 hrs, there will be no critical ash contamination in the extreme north-east of the country. [more- DFS]
  • Irish Aviation Authority confirmed on 25-May-2011 that there will be no impact on Irish airspace by ash concentrations for at least the next 48 hours and all Irish airports remain open. [more – Irish Aviation Authority]
  • LFV reports the latest forecast for 25-May-2011 indicates low density ash concentrations in Swedish airspace. 26-May-2011 forecast indicates there could be some medium density concentration of ash reaching Sweden from the west above mid Norrland. [more - LFV]
  • Naviair stated ash clouds from the Icelandic volcano are no longer causing problems in Danish airspace, with no medium/high ash concentrations in Danish airspace which is now fully open. [more – Naviair ]
  • Finnish Transport Safety Authority directed airlines to follow the instructions of their state of registration when flying in volcanic ash affected areas in Finnish airspace. No advance permission or approval is required of foreign air carriers for entry into Finnish airspace when affected by volcanic ash. [more - Trafi]


  • Aeroflot cancelled its service to Hamburg on 25-May-2011, but operated its normal schedule to other German cities. [more - Aeroflot]
  • airberlin announced it plans to resume normal flight operations from Hamburg, Bremen, Rostock-Laage, Sylt and Berlin-Tegel airports as soon as possible, following temporary suspension of services at these airports. Flights that have already been cancelled will also be resumed where possible. [more - airberlin]
  • Ryanair stated a UK VAAC representative admitted the “red zone” marking high ash concentrations shown in the UK Met Office charts is “in the wrong place” and have caused unnecessary flight cancellations. The carrier continued to agitate for the UK Civil Aviation Authority to "accept that these UK predictions are simply works of fiction". [more - Ryanair]
  • Air Malta cancelled some services into Germany on 25-May-2011 but operated all other routes as normal. The carrier is not expecting any significant service disruptions [more- Air Malta]
  • Kingfisher Airlines announced it resumed normal operations on all its flights from India to the UK. Flights have been re-routed on a more southerly route into and out of London Heathrow airport so as to steer clear of any airspace that may potentially be impacted by drifting volcanic ash.  [more - Kingfisher Airlines]


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